Thursday, April 29, 2010

Making the most of a classroom release day

Yesterday I was lucky to be involved in a panel discussion on tutor teachers and support for beginning teachers.  Part of the discussion went into how to make the best use of release days as a means of becoming a better teacher and to stay on top of things.  The Teachers Council has some great information on this topic, which I believe is relevant to all teachers, not just those who are starting out in their careers.  I am sure that anyone who does the following will be delivering quality programmes to their students.

  • Observing other teachers and students in your own or another learning centre.
  • Having your supervising teacher or another colleague observe your own teaching.
  • Working with individual students or a small group.
  • Monitoring and assessing students' learning.
  • Discussions with parents, whanau, community resource people.
  • Discussions with other teachers such as guidance counsellors, senior staff, or with advisers or specialist education services.
  • Becoming familiar with the library, teaching resources and records of the learning centre.
  • Finding out about the policies and procedures in your learning centre.
  • Studying professional material, analysing your own professional needs and development, and planning for better teaching.
  • Participating in courses and meetings, which require release from your teaching duties
One point that is a stand out for me is 'Becoming familiar with the library, teaching resources and records of the learning centre'.  Schools are a wealth of resources, many of which are almost forgotten about by most of the staff.  Take the time to have a good look around in the resources room cupboards; you never know what you'll find!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Learning from the Past

This morning I attended the ANZAC Day dawn parade with staff, parents and students from Lakeview School.  It was great to see so many from our school community attending the event, especially as it meant a 5.00am start to a Sunday morning!  The Lakeview School students were primarily made up of the student leaders, who, along with the other students, were dressed in their full school uniform.

One of the reasons I feel that the ANZAC Day Dawn Parade are so important is that they give us the opportunity to both pay respect to those who served our country, and to learn from mistakes made in the past.  Our children of today are our leaders of tomorrow.  As teachers and parents we need to ensure that children are aware of how and why events such as WW1 and WW2 took place.  This awareness will contribute towards an understanding of how to avoid such world wide catastrophes occurring again. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Intelligence verses Effort

I read the following story in The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.

Which child is going to make the most progress; the child praised for his intelligence, or the child praised for her effort?  The question has been answered by Professor Carol Dweck.

In an experiment done by Dweck with 500 New York 5th graders (approx 10 years of age), two groups were formed.  Both groups then went on to do the same relatively test.  At the end of the test one group was praised for their intelligence; 'you must be very clever'; and the other was praised for their effort; 'you must have tried really hard'.

Both groups were then given two options, either a much harder test or one at the same level as the first test.  90% of the children who were praised for their effort chose to do the harder test, whereas a majority of the children praised for their intelligence chose to have the easier test.  Dweck feels that this is because those praised for their intelligence are 'playing the game' of not taking risks in their learning so as not to make mistakes; therefore maintaining the impression of being smart.

A third test, much harder test was then given to both groups.  The effort group really dug in, trying new strategies.  This group commented on how much they liked doing the test.  The intelligent group overwhelmingly disliked doing the test; they took it as proof that they weren't smart.

The experiment then went back to students doing the initial test again.  As you have probably guessed, the effort group improved their results by 30%, whereas the intelligent groups overall results declined by 20%.  Dweck then went on to repeat the experiment five times with different groups of students, and each time came up with the same result.

The message here is that a few simple words of  seemingly positive feedback can have a significant impact on future learning of students.  This demonstrates the powerful messages that we as teachers can convey to our students and the need to choose our words carefully.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A little more on early age identification ...

A quick follow up on the previous topic; I was reading Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and the topic came up in relation to identifying students for gifted and talented programmes in the United States. Testing in pre-school is used as a means to place students in gifted and talented programmes. Bronson unveils research that clearly highlights that this is far too early, and leads to many missing out who develop a little later. It also leads to many being included who wouldn't necessarily be there based on analysis of results achieved after extended periods in gifted and talented programmes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Early Age Group Talent Identification

A book I recently read, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, highlights the need avoid labeling children as talented too early.  This was brought again to my attention in a Tony Ryan course I attended today.  Tony mentioned the fact that many sports teams around the world are dominated by people born in the first three months of the year.  This is due to the fact that with an age group cut-off on the 1st of January, a child born in January has a whole years advantage over a child born in December in terms of physical development.  The Jan 1st child will then receive the better coaching through being part of representative teams from that point on.

The policy of this early labeling means that we are potentially denying a large percentage of children the opportunity to reach their full potential, or to have the chance of competing at the highest level in sports.  Why not instead leave the talent identification for a later time when there is more equality in the level of fairness for all children, regardless of when they are born.

It was interesting to see that in a room full of education leaders, only two were aware of the advantages of being a child born early in the year (The issue was only brought to my attention because Outliers was bought for me as a gift).  Perhaps now that these leaders have now been enlightened they will use their influence to avoid this birthday discrimination occurring in their own schools for all manner of school programmes, both academic and sporting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Some interesting thoughts on motivation

Check out this video to see a talk by Dan Pink on motivation. It highlights the need to develop intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation within our lives and the lives of our students. It's eye-opening stuff that I certainly agree with.

I would be interested in hearing any comments from readers on their own thoughts on the video and motivation in general.